Each year, Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) hosts a dinner to honor community volunteers for their contributions to Boston’s neighborhoods. Ranging from working with elder services to child and health care, and anywhere between Dorchester and East Boston, and Brighton and Chinatown, the awardees have devoted their time, energy, and efforts to various engagements that impact and improve the livelihoods of thousands of unserved and underserved Bostonians. This year, the Asian American Civic Association (AACA) nominated Sherry Dong as one of 19 exceptional volunteers to receive this award.
At the ABCD Community Awards Dinner hosted on October 29th, keynote speaker Vicki Kennedy addressed over 1,500 guests and thanked the 19 recipients for “promoting self-help for low-income communities” and helping people to “overcome poverty, live with dignity, and achieve their full potential.” Dong’s work with the Chinatown and Asian American community is extensive and certainly fits Mrs. Kennedy’s description.
As the Director of Community Health Improvement Programs at Tufts Medical Center, Dong has overseen grant giving initiatives and facilitated efforts to engage residents of Chinatown, and raise awareness about available health programs and services. Her work aims to narrow the gap in health disparities amongst residents in the neighborhood, and advocates for access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care. In addition, over the past seven years, Dong has been involved with a food pantry program at Tufts Medical Center called “Ricesticks and Tea,” which offers food and supplies to over 120 pre-screened low-income Asian immigrant and refugee families each month.
Outside of her work in the medical center, Dong has also been active in many other ways in the community. She was recently named President of the Board of Directors for the Chinese Historical Society, and has served as the Board Co-Chair for the Chinatown Coalition, where she led several community health education initiatives, including emergency preparedness planning and seasonal flu. Furthermore, Dong was Board President of the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, and has served as a volunteer at AACA to assist immigrants with their citizenship tests.
When asked what the award means to her, Dong states that she is humbled and thankful for AACA, for she understands first-hand how important AACA’s work is for the Chinese and immigrant communities to gain economic self-sufficiency. She also credits her background (this isn’t really a unique background) as a child of immigrant parents for helping her understand the many struggles and challenges that Boston’s immigrants and children of immigrants so often face: “Perhaps it’s the ‘filial piety’ that is internalized by many of us, but I do what I do because I think it’s the right thing to do, because it’s important to give back to the community and promote a culture of giving and volunteerism. I hope I can be an encouragement to others to also give back to their communities, whether you are able to give your time, expertise, resources, money, etc., to know that your individual contributions will make a difference in someone’s life, no matter how large or small.”
Joanne Wong is a Sampan correspondent.
This post is also available in: Chinese